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Compost Production
Thousands of pounds of material for soil building

This project is currently part of a grant application for the Sustainable CT/Windham Committee.


The process is based upon recent understandings of the biological processes in composting and an extremely natural approach to the process. Research was conducted on regional companies (Blue Earth, Pedal People), textbooks for industry practices (Epstein, 2011), personal composting operations with much higher thresholds for safety (Jenkins, 2005), and relevant biological processes (Lowenfels & Lewis, 2010; Lemitri et. al., 2014, Hirano & Tamae 2011). A phone conversation was held with a Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection official in 2016 over potential issues with waste/runoff, who stated that there were no concerns due to the small, private, personal scale of the project.


A local coffee shop provides high quality coffee grounds and food scraps. Each bucket weighs approximately 20 pounds. The average pickup is 4 buckets per week. That constitutes 4,160 pounds of nitrogen-based material per year.


Neighboring property owners provide leaves each fall, creating a carbon supply that lasts all year. This is much lighter, especially when dry, constituting perhaps only 1,000 pounds of brown material per year.


Therefore, over the previous 5 years, this project has redirected approximately 25,800 pounds of material from waste systems and converted it to productive use in growing projects. However, a lot of this weight is moisture, most of which evaporates into the air as steam in the initial stages of the process, so the final weight is probably just under 10,000 pounds.


The site is located under a large conifer tree, on raised area facing southeast, with rocks and pine needles beneath the pile. This provides perfect conditions for moderating temperature, moisture, runoff, and leaching. It provides shade in summer and midday, warmth from sunlight in the morning, enough shade and humidity from the tree to maintain moisture in the pile, and reduces rainfall/runoff to effectively zero. The pile is not large enough to require aeration. Each week, the size is maintained by the supply of green material with the leaves included. Temperature is regularly checked at the top of the pile. Each spring, the one-year-old seasoned compost is removed from the bottom of the pile and used in growing projects. Any meat or other food products are mixed with leaves, dirt, and sticks to make it unpalatable, and there has never been an issue with rodents etc. Over the course of the year-long process of breaking down, the pile moves through all four stages of mesophilic, thermophilic, long-form bacteria (actinomyces), and fungi. This breaks down bone. I suspect it also breaks down and incorporates small bits of stone.


The pile is balanced with no aeration, watering, turning, tarp covering, container bin, wall building, mesh, filtering of the final product, running of chickens over the pile, or use of a digester. Biological material is added in very diverse mixture and appears to break down evenly without deleterious effects. For example, citrus is added with no observed effect on worms. Each organism appears to simply engage/proliferate with preferable conditions/items while avoiding unpreferred ones.




Epstein, E. (2011). Industrial Composting: Environmental Engineering and Facilities Management. CRC Press.


Hirano, T., & Tamae, K. (2011). Earthworms and soil pollutants. Sensors, 11(12), pp. 11157-11167.


Jenkins, J. C. (2005). The Humanure Handbook, a Guide to Composting Human Manure, Third Edition. Joseph Jenkins, Inc.


Lemtiri, A., Colinet, G., Alabi, T., Cluzeau, D., Zirbes, L., Haubruge, É., & Francis, F. (2014). Impacts of earthworms on soil components and dynamics. A review. Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement, 18.


Lowenfels, J. & Lewis, W. (2010). Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition. Timber Press.

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